It happened quietly, almost unexpectedly. A gentle gust which got gradually stronger until we were swept off our feet. However, there were so few who witnessed it we called it the tornado that nobody saw. When it was over we were left breathless.
I was in the US when it occurred, travelling as usual. However, I was not in the dustball of Oklahoma or the flat lands of Kansas like you might expect, no, I witnessed this phenomenon in Athens, Georgia.
I along with a few locals and some friends of friends, were in this quaint southern town to hear music. A friend of mine, Ryan, a guy I met in Iceland and who other tails have been written about, and his band were going to put on a performance – they were the tornado that nobody saw.
Ryan was the main star of this enterprise along with his Brother Chris Monahan who played drums, Josh McMichael was on base and a young guy named Ben Lewis played banjo and mandolin. Ryan played lead guitar and sang. I introduced the quartet to the mostly empty bar room as ‘Ryan Monahan and guests’. It went down a treat.
It began quietly enough, Ryan opened with a solo piece named ‘Mr. and Ms. Understanding’, which resembled the gentle cool breeze of the Rocky Mountains. Then it began, and the storm crashed as Chris hit the drums and the tornado gained velocity as the boys increased the volume. Each song had its own unique quality, an individual sardonic twist. Tracks such as ‘Consequence’ and ‘Love Me Sober’ exposed themselves for what they were, lyrical truths with a twist and a tuch of dark humour. At one point during the set the musical wind howled and wipt up a fury of motion. One could have said the ‘eye of the storm’ was the song ‘Revolving Doors’, a kind of jazzy rock classy number full of rich guitar chords and mandolin tricks. The storm eventually blew itself out as Ryan ended the gig with a couple of gentler numbers before the band rejoined for the final little burst of wind. Then that was it, an hour and a half of around a dozen songs of rock-jazz excentricity with soprano-folk vocals, offset by a steady base and heavy experimental drumming. Ben interacted with soft clever string playing, giving the music an added intelectial quality. He was probably the most talented of the musicians. The music was original which was in itself refreshing. Even the Billy Joel cover called ‘Everybody Loves You Now’ had its own personal ryan Monahan touch.
I went crazy at every heavy turn of rift, crash of drum, change of chord. I yeld and encouraged like any lover of music should. It was just a shame that there were so few people there to witness it. Ryan is a natural and has plenty of material. He should go far.
We can only hope that one or two men from the music profession were there to discover what we all saw.
It was amazing, electrifying – it was indeed the tornado that nobody saw.